Tuesday, 15 January 2013

SUMMER SNIPPETS: ‘Migrations & Cultures,’ by Thomas Sowell

Migrations And Cultures: A World ViewMore interesting snippets I highlighted during my summer reading, this time from Thomas Sowell’s Migration & Cultures, part of his Race & Culture trilogy.  (Send a copy to Tariana Turia.)

Cultures are not merely customs which people have a sentimental attachment, or badges of “identity” which permit them to engage in breast-beating. Cultures are particular ways of accomplishing the things that make life possible—the perpetuation of the species, the transmission of knowledge, and the absorption of the shocks of change and death, among other things.  Cultures differ in the relative significance they attach to time, noise, safety, cleanliness, violence, thrift, intellect, sex and art.  These differences in turn imply differences in social choices, economic efficiency. and political stability.  Though cutures transcend race, particular cultures are obviously often associated particular racial or ethnic groups. Australians are Europeans, regardless of what geography may say…”

There is no reason to doubt that individual mental capacity was as great as ever, or that as many potential geniuses were born during the Dark Ages in Europe as during its eras of the most shining achievements. What was lacking was an ability to “avail themselves of the great bank and capital of nations and ages,” as Burke phrased it in a different context.  The institutions of such cultural transmission were simply gone with the collapse of Roman society.”

It may sound noble to say that cultures are merely different, not better or worse in any way, and that it is all a matter of perceptions and preferences.  But this argument contradicts itself by saying that one way of looking at cultural difference is better—the way of cultural relativism preferred by a fringe of of contemporary intellectuals, rather than the way preferred by the vast majority of other human beings around the world and down through the centuries.
    “These cultural differences do not matter only if cause and effect do not matter…”


  1. Culture is just another name for your mother. Whatever she imparts sets your course.

    Now look at our current society and wonder what crop is being reared.


  2. The culture of a nation can be changed by allowing into the ountry immigrants with a different culture. This is what is happening to Britain and much of Western Europe with the influx of Muslim immigrants.

  3. @George: There seems no role in your theory, George, for individual choice and free will. Did you believe EVERYthing your mother told you?

    @Mark V.: That depends almost entirely on the strength of the local culture. Witness for example the largest mass migration in history, in which tens of millions upped sticks from some of the poorest and most tribal parts of Europe to a new place with values very different from those they left---where they not only joined the local culture, they impelled it forward.

    I'm talking of course of the great nineteenth-century migration to America, in which 5.2 million immigrants arrived in the decade of the 1880s alone, wanting a part of the American dream.

    But that was when the American dream really meant something.

  4. Peter, by and large I think I have beleived most things she told me. That includes a lot of stuff I didn't want to beleive at the time, but it has since proven true.

    As for independence, I can still hear her saying "Don't follow the mob"

    How about yourself?

  5. I agree with Mark V.

    I wouldn't call it "immigration", however.
    I would call it "invasion".

    I define "invasion" as "an influx of a group of people into a country with hostile intent towards that country."

    Anyone who believes that Muslim immigrants are a benign influence on a country should be dropped into Malmo or any one of the many huge Muslim ghettoes in Europe and the U.K. See how "benign" the Muslims there are towards the locals.

    Note that there is no mention of the *speed* of invasion in my definition. "Hostile intent" is all that is required, and such intent can be as simple a thing as outbreeding the local population.


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